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Progressive Versus Insurtech: Can The Ohio-Based Incumbent Keep Up?

CEO Tricia Griffith has introduced a mobile-friendly tool for comparing home insurance quotes.

Progressive Versus Insurtech: Can The Ohio-Based Incumbent Keep Up?
[Photo: Colin J Bird via Wikimedia Commons]

Since CEO Tricia Griffith took the reins at Progressive last July, the company’s stock has been on a tear, rising from around $32.50 to $47. Progressive sells personal and commercial insurance, with a focus on auto, and is perhaps best known for its ubiquitous TV ads featuring Flo in her signature apron. Over on Wall Street, the company has won acclaim for its sophisticated pricing models and smart use of data. “Another month, another great result,” UBS analysts headlined their June report.

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Progressive’s strength in auto allows it to trade at a premium, because investors like the sector’s lower volatility and higher returns. But Griffith, a Progressive veteran, sees home insurance as key to further market share gains. “We’ve found that the more products our customers have with us, the longer they stay,” she tells Fast Company. “It’s about making sure we listen to our customer needs and get to those pain points.”

Last week Griffith launched a product called HomeQuote Explorer, one of her first major initiatives as CEO. It’s a revamped, mobile-friendly interface for generating home insurance quotes, including comparison rates. “We were the first ones to offer comparison rates on the auto side. We did it even if we weren’t the lowest price,” says Griffith. “This HQX opportunity is that same thing, but with a more complex product.” (In home insurance there are more variables to assess.) So far, during A/B testing, the company is seeing a double-digit increase in sales versus its older user experience.

There is a lot of hype around insurtech these days. Since 2011, according to CB Insights, insurtech companies have raised $5.67 billion in funding, with many focused on better design. Progressive’s HQX product may not have all the bells and whistles that make mobile apps from startups like Lemonade feel smart and engaging. But the company does have strong brand recognition—and now, a digital experience that may be good enough.

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About the author

Senior Writer Ainsley Harris joined Fast Company in 2014. Follow her on Twitter at @ainsleyoc.

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